Single Female Home Ownership Gaining Momentum

The percentage of single female home buyers in the U.S. has been significantly higher than that of single male home buyers for quite some time, but a recent Bloomberg article has predicted that 2016 may be the year single female home buyers become even more common. 

According to the article, the percentage of single female home buyers was at 21 percent in 2009, but stringent mortgage restrictions in the wake of the recession caused it to decline.

The National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report of 2015 said single adult females made up about 16 percent of all homebuyers this past year. While this is still significantly greater than single adult males (who made up 8 percent of all home buyers), Bloomberg said the real estate market should likely begin to see more growth in single female interest in owning a home.

Why now?

Bloomberg explained that income is on the rise for single women in many U.S. cities. The cities seeing the most significant rises in female income include Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, and Charlotte, North Carolina. These five cities have experienced the most growth in women who earn six figures. More money means more spending power, and through extensive data analysis Bloomberg concluded that many women are demonstrating interest in using that spending power to invest in real estate. 

Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research for the National Association of Realtors, told Bloomberg that aside from higher incomes, one reason single female interest in home buying may grow is the potential for increased housing affordability. Prospective female homebuyers seek properties in similar price ranges to that of investors looking to acquire property to rent out. In 2015, investor interest in rental property declined. Lautz explained if it continues to do so, similarly priced properties will become easier for single women to afford.

What kind of single females are buying?

The National Association of Realtors® report found that single females of all ages were buying homes in 2015, but the age group with the highest percentage of single female homebuyers may be older than you think. Twenty-three percent of homebuyers between the ages of 50 and 59 were single females. It seems much of the single female housing activity lies with the baby boomers.

Building Online discussed an analysis by Del Webb, a company that builds homes in adult communities, which found that interest of single female baby boomers in purchasing homes is growing. Del Webb reported that the number of single females interested in purchasing its homes has continued to grow since 2012. Single women now make up about one-fifth of all Del Webb buyers. Lindsay Motley, the regional vice president for Del Webb's parent company PulteGroup, Inc., said she expects interest to keep rising based on results from a recent Del Webb survey.

How real estate agents can appeal to single female buyers

If single female home buyers are indeed on the rise, it is important for real estate agents to tap into that market.

RIS Media asked Kathy Cummings, the senior vice president of consumer education and consulting executive for Bank of America Home Loans, to share some insight into how real estate agents can provide the best customer service to single female buyers. Her No. 1 piece of advice: don't stereotype. 

Real estate agents should take every possible measure to avoid making any gender-based assumptions about their clients. They should never assume a woman needs extra hand-holding or has a harder time understanding the housing market, and they should never speculate on what type of home she wants (the stereotype is that women prefer properties that won't require too much DIY maintenance). Instead, real estate agents must take the time to get to know each client on an individual level to ascertain her specific needs.

In short, real estate agents should treat every client the same, no matter their gender or marital status. Cummings said based on 2013 U.S. Census data there are about 55.65 million single women in the U.S. While they may not all be looking to invest in real estate, it is safe to say a great deal of them are interested. If you are looking to take advantage of this market, take Cummings' advice and treat your single female clients with respect.